Witness’ death won’t weaken case vs ex-gov, says DOJ chief


05:31 AM February 9th, 2013

By: Jerome Aning, February 9th, 2013 05:31 AM

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Friday said the death of the alleged lookout in the hit team that murdered Palawan environmentalist-broadcaster Gerardo “Doc Gerry” Ortega would not affect the case that the government is pursuing against the culprits.

De Lima told reporters that the testimony offered by Dennis Aranas, who reportedly committed suicide on Wednesday at the Quezon provincial jail in Lucena City, was rejected by the government’s Witness Protection Program (WPP).

She said that while Aranas was provisionally admitted to the WPP when the case was still under evaluation, his regular admission was not approved.

“There was a certification on nonmateriality by the handling prosecutors. This means it was certified that his testimony was immaterial. We have requisites to comply with [so] he was not covered,” she said.

Former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes and his brother, Coron Mayor Mario Reyes, were earlier charged for the January 2011 murder case. Both have denied the charges and have fled the country.

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